Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
12-year-old Sean Crenshaw and his best friend Patrick are die hard monster fanatics. Along with their friend Horace (AKA Fat Kid), junior high tough guy Rudy, Sean's kid sister Phoebe, and little Eugene they come together and talk monsters. But when Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Gill Man, and The Mummy come to their small town to get an amulet to control the world, Sean leads his friends into action to protect their town from the forces of evil.
Is it good movie?
You know, there are some days that are really, really good ones to be a DVD reviewer. I suffer at times for my art, but on days like today, everything is worth it (although to be honest, having a gig as a horror reviewer is pretty much always super awesome). I know that you all read the staff picks last Halloween here on AITH- and this one was mine. Movies like The The Monster Squad are what made me the horror fan I am today.
As a kid, I was a wimp who didn't like anything scary. However, for some reason as a young boy (around 5), this VHS box with the monsters and the kids on the cover of it really piqued my interest, Needless to say, I have been hooked since the first time I watched it. Now here's the real kicker: the film still holds up just as well today, and I think I'd have enjoyed it even if I'd never seen it before.
Just look at the plot- kids vs. the Universal Monsters. How awesome is that? Quite, I'd say. On top of this, the film's acting is really worlds better than you'd expect- Duncan Regehr is top notch as the sophisticated, aristocratic Dracula, Tom Noonan is a fantastic representation of Frankenstein's monster, and each one of the child actors (who were unknown at the time) do a very respectable job of playing real children.
The Monster Squad has a lot of awesome moments: the drive-in stealing on the roof, the period piece at the beginning, the Wolfman's transformation (and subsequent explosion), Dracula's cold-hearted "bitch" line, The Mummy in my closet, and just about every single scene Frankenstein's monster is in. so many more. Who could forget "The Wolfman's got nards!"? If it is you, shame on you.
It all works very well- The Monster's relationship with Phoebe is an anchor for the film, providing very real emotion and showing that love can come from the most unlikely of sources. Also, the most important factor which leads to this film's success is that everything is played seriously. Of course this doesn't mean that the film doesn't have laughs, it IS about monsters and all- but what I should say is that the actors do not 'camp' up their roles. This makes the whole film much more entertaining and engaging, and even a tad more realistic.
The Monster Squad is also great because it can appeal to many different age groups, from the young fans to the die-hard, everyone will find something to love here. Stan Winston's creature effects were awesome, and Wolfman's transformation is still reminiscent of many moments spent hiding underneath a blanket.
On top of all of this, The The Monster Squad is pure 80s nostalgia. This is zeitgeist at its best, people. You'll fall in love with this squad all over again, from Horace to Rudy. Check this out, you won't regret it.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, and is damn near pristine. It's so nice to see The Monster Squad in glorious sharp color as opposed to faded, washed out and grainy.
Audio will tear through your speakers in this newly mastered Dolby 5.1 Surround mix that just feels so right.
First up, we get an awesome Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Fred Dekker and "Squad Members" Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert and Ashley Bank which absolutely rocks the Kasbah. These guys are honest and informative, not to mention interesting, which is all one can really hope for in a commentary.
Equally as interesting but perhaps not quite as interesting is the second Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Fred Dekker and Director of Photography Bradford May, but I still recommend it.
The main meat of the extras comes from the Five-Part Documentary: "The Monster Squad Forever!" , which is over 90 minutes(!) long and will tell you, well, just about everything you wanted to know. Did you know that Stan Winston is a "mean old man", or that Tom Noonan had never been able to show this to his kids until now? How about Fred Dekker's admission that despite its later success, this movie and Robocop 3 pretty much "killed" his career until now? How about insights from the child actors who are all grown up? IT's all here, it’s all candid, and it’s all captivating. Awesome stuff. So good. One of the best extras I’ve enjoyed for quite some time.
Also here is the "Conversation with Frankenstein" featurette, an awesome short interview with the monster himself.
The Deleted Scenes are brief and at the end of the day, expendable, but that's why they were deleted.
Also, you will find a still gallery and a storyboard sequence.
I'm so happy that The Monster Squad has finally found its way to DVD, on its 20th anniversary. The film immediately takes me back to a happy place in my mind, and actually doesn’t suck today, which is something that not many films can say. Many of the cast and crew had almost written the movie off after its box office failure, and were genuinely shocked to see how the movie developed a cult following some years later. I for one am lucky to be a part of that wacky cult (where's my Kool-Aid?), and think that anyone who likes Monster flicks, the 80s or just having a good time should absolutely check this out. The The Monster Squad is one of the reasons I love horror as much as I do today!